The News Rundown
- Facebook has blocked Australians from viewing or sharing news on their platform, and the Canadian government shares similar concerns.
- All local and national news sites were unavailable in Australia and in error, some government health and emergency pages were also scrubbed in error.
- So what happened?
- The Australian government has recently proposed a law which would make tech companies such as Facebook and Google fund the legacy media companies.
- The point of view of the legacy media companies is that people who get their news on Facebook rarely read into the story or in the event that Facebook actually publishes the full story, the user has no reason to go to the news agencies website.
- Similar point with Google, Google News headlines often provide the story and a short blurb, what people are after these days. More questions arise if the story is involved in a Google info box that you see on the side when you do a search.
- Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault condemned Facebook’s move and reiterated that the move would not defer the federal government from moving ahead with similar legislation.
- Canada is looking at joining a coalition that could grow to 15 countries including Australia, Finland, France and Germany who are looking to enact similar measures on Facebook and Google.
- For Facebook’s part, they enacted the block in Australia because the law goes counter to the ideal of publishing on Facebook.
- Facebook says that the publishers come out ahead as according to their advertising metrics, Facebook in Australia generated 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian news publishers.
- This story represents a fundamental misunderstanding by governments and news agencies about how the internet works.
- The issue that the media corporations bring to the government is that they create content, it appears on Facebook (by their own doing!), and they don’t get any ad revenues on their own websites for this happening.
- In Facebook’s blog post they say that the legislation “seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for.”
- If you’re a news agency and you want to have a website but not deal with Facebook and run your own ads, you can do that!
- The issue at large is that news agencies just do not understand how the internet works and the government has blindly listened and Canada is on track to do the same.
- A news company with a loyal following that has a decent website and good publisher relations should be able to make a push at being their own publishing platform.
- This means having a website that works on modern computers and smartphones for both audio and video playback, knowing what kind of ads to place and where that will drive engagement with their users, making the website easy to access via web or smartphone app, having a vibrant community with discussion where people would rather discuss on your website compared to Facebook or Twitter (you can even offer people the ability to log in via Facebook!), and most importantly creating compelling content that will organically rise to the top of search engines and be shared on social media.
- There’s also a level of irony in this that the media companies are expecting government help or money from Facebook.
- Going back to the mid-2000s if you created a website you faced the exact same problem except it wasn’t Facebook or Google posting your content, it was link sharing websites like Slashdot, Digg, or Reddit.
- Over time the relationship grew to a point where it was a huge positive to make it to the front pages of one of these websites and technical features made their way into the web page HTML specifications to ensure that search ratings for small websites would not be penalized.
- I dealt with this and if I can, surely the media companies of the world can too without Steven Guilbeaults help.
- He seems to be in a silo of his own saying that “news is not free and has never been.” Sure people have to be paid but forcing companies like Facebook and Google to do it is just wrong.
- All the media companies need to do is offer a compelling case to their readers and step into 2021 with their digital offerings.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is launching the long-promised buyback program for what he has described as “assault-style” firearms.
- The buyback program is one part of new gun control measures promised by the federal Liberals in the 2019 election campaign, and follows the announcement of an executive order last May that changed the classification listings to prohibit roughly 1,500 “assault-style” weapons.
- While terms like “assault-style” and “assault rifle” are not legal classifications in Canada, they are frequently used colloquially by gun control advocates and the government to describe the type of high-capacity, quick-fire guns targeted by the ban. However, automatic firearms are already prohibited in Canada, as are high-capacity magazines, and the ban targets many more types of firearms.
- The legislation will also allow municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation. Trudeau said the measures will be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules. Already, several mayors of Canada's largest cities say they welcome the news.
- Toronto Mayor John Tory said city staff are reviewing the bill and welcome federal efforts to tackle gun violence: “The federal government has said the changes announced today would allow municipalities to ban handguns and include federal penalties for those who violate local bylaws. The City looks forward to receiving details from the Government of Canada on how such a ban would work and what its impact would be on gun violence.”
- He also laments that he might not be able to "take advantage" in making a ban for Toronto, if Doug Ford's provincial government moves to block it.
- On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Ontario's solicitor general said the province is reviewing the federal legislation. The spokesperson also said the province would rather focus its efforts "on action that makes a real impact in reducing illegal gun and gang violence," noting that law enforcement experts have repeatedly indicated that banning legal firearms doesn't meaningfully address gun violence.
- Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart immediately announced plans to ask council to use these new powers to ban handguns in the city. In a statement, the mayor said he applauds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for taking action against assault-style weapons.
- “For cities like Vancouver, the greatest threat to public safety is the proliferation of handguns, deadly weapons that have no place in cities, and this bill would give us new tools to get them off our streets,” said Stewart.
- Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum also said he supports a handgun ban in his municipality and will be directing city staff to draft a bylaw.
- “I want to commend the prime minister for creating new legislation that will give municipalities the ability to ban handguns locally with the added weight of federal penalties, such as criminal sanctions, for those who are caught violating the ban,” he said.
- Conservative public safety critic Shannon Stubbs called the announcement “disappointing” in a joint statement issued with Richard Martel, the party’s Quebec lieutenant:
- “Instead of targeting law-abiding Canadians and firearm retailers, the government should be investing in police anti-gang and gun units and the CBSA to provide law enforcement with the resources they need to stop illegal smuggling operations and get dangerous criminals and gangs off the streets. Conservatives have, and will always, support common-sense firearms policies that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. We are calling on the Trudeau Liberals to ensure that Canada’s firearms legislation is based on evidence, not on ideology, and respects the rights of Canadians.”
- Neil Boyd, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University said criminals will find ways around any handgun ban to get guns.
- Boyd said: “I am supportive of a handgun ban in the city, but it’s unlikely to have an impact on gang violence, or on rates of firearm crime, as those involved are already willing to risk their lives to engage in criminal activity, and will find ways to acquire handguns.”
- On Tuesday, B.C. announced a new $1.2 million provincial firearms lab, which will be a centralized weapons intelligence hub. At the hub, police can analyze illegal firearms that were used for criminal activity. BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said it will help police build intelligence on illegal firearms, including those used in gang-related shootings, and aid in prosecutions.
- BC is clearly wanting to crack down on criminal shootings, but what of the federal government? At the same time as BC's announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to crack down on gun crime, but then on Thursday his government introduced legislation to reduce sentences for serious gun crimes including weapons trafficking and importing. They will also be repealing mandatory minimum sentences even for people convicted multiple times of gun offences.
- When people think of what types of guns are being banned, Trudeau uses the phrase “military-style assault weapons”. That’s what they want you to think of when you think of their gun control measures. They ban these rifles and shotguns, which are not used in crimes while invoking the kinds of shootings that have plagued our cities over the past several years.
- The government put these changes into a bill they described as dealing with systemic racism in Canada’s justice system and making sure that people who make simple mistakes don’t pay for them for the rest of their lives.
- “These are people with health problems. These are single mothers. These are young people who perhaps have made a couple of mistakes,” Justice Minister David Lametti said while introducing his bill. It sounds nice and it pulls on the heartstrings, but it's also wrong.
- Take the removal of mandatory minimums for knowingly possessing an illegal firearm. Right now there is no mandatory minimum on someone’s first offence, a minimum of one year on a second offence and a minimum of three years on a third offence.
- Being caught with illegal guns three times isn’t making a “couple of mistakes,” it is repeatedly engaging in dangerous criminal behavior, the kind the government claims it wants to stop.
- The legislation also removes one-year mandatory minimum sentences for charges related to smuggling and trafficking in illegal guns. Isn’t that exactly what the government claims they want to stop?
- Lametti made repeated claims on Thursday that mandatory minimums were a failed Conservative policy that Canadians have rejected. This is false. Mandatory minimums have been part of Canada’s criminal code since at least the time of Pierre Trudeau, who introduced some, as have other Liberal governments.
- The minimums being repealed by the Trudeau government for guns crimes are mostly light and not punitive. With this bill, Justin Trudeau is showing he isn’t serious about dealing with actual gun crime and any claims otherwise are simply electoral smoke and mirrors.
- The experts at the Business Council of Alberta have spoken and are suggesting that the province bring in a sales tax.
- The recommendation to bring in a sales tax or harmonized sales tax is an attempt to close the gap in revenue that the province sees.
- The group also wants the province to take control of the consumer carbon tax so that revenues from it will flow into Alberta coffers rather than that of the federal government.
- The Business Council of Alberta highlights in their report a revenue problem.
- Everyone knows that Alberta’s finances fare best when oil prices remain steady at or above $60/barrel.
- The unstable fountain of natural resource revenues have been known for decades and governments from Lougheed to Klein sought to save but governments like Don Getty’s, Ed Stelmach’s, Allison Redford’s, and Rachel Notley’s all sought to spend, spend, spend.
- The idea is that a sales tax could normalize revenues to a point where the provinces finances are not as turbulent.
- Jason Kenney reiterated his commitment to not bring in any new taxes saying, “As I said a year ago when this (COVID-19) crisis first started, this would be the worst possible time to sink the government's hand deeper into the pockets of taxpayers who are already coping with huge financial stress.”
- He also acknowledged that at some point before this first mandate is up, there will be a panel struck to look at the revenue side of the equation and report back to the government with recommendations.
- This is very similar to the MacKinnon blue ribbon panel that sought to find all the examples of overspending when the UCP first took power in 2019.
- The Premier also made it clear that if there was ever to be a provincial sales tax brought in, it would have to be cleared with the population by way of referendum.
- Economists are masters of examining two or more variables in a problem and then producing an analysis of the best path forward.
- Economically a 3-4% sales tax would provide the cushion the province needs without being too overbearing on the population.
- It’s a rather simple economic argument to make from the pure dollar stance but the questions become murkier when asking those already suffering to pay more on potentially everything from groceries to home heating.
- The Business Council of Alberta report also highlights that there is still a spending problem with Alberta spending 11% more per capita than the average of the 9 other provinces.
- The UCP’s own internal reporting said this was 12%, for the sake of statistical calculations these numbers are almost identical.
- The UCP was elected to balance the budget and also not to raise taxes, barring the pandemic that job would be well underway.
- As soon as the pandemic wanes we can expect the UCP to get back to that core promise.
- As for the revenue side though, we should look south of the border.
- Alberta has lead the way when it comes to the economy of Canada and the evolution of government.
- If we want to look at a sales tax of some sort in the province, that could be paired with a decrease to income taxes.
- The state of Florida has no income tax, but residents still pay federal income tax.
- Instead Florida has a 6% sales tax and counties are allowed to levy additional income taxes if they see fit.
- Adopting such a system here would make a sales tax an easier sell to the population and encourage competition between different municipalities.
- Banff and Jasper could have a higher sales tax since they’re resort towns and Calgary and Edmonton could duel over who has the better business climate.
- As we know a culture of competition in the market place almost always produces better outcomes at the end of the day.
- The other option is of course to slim down government, bring that per capita spending down to average, and start making investments that can be tapped into when we see a resource revenue shortfall.
- Our current approach is very much like the US state of Montana where there is no sales tax. The difference though is that our operations are more expensive and our revenues fluctuate wildly.
- At the end of the day in any economic argument, a problem can almost always be solved by exerting levers on both sides of the problem.
- It doesn’t always have to be a sales tax and it doesn’t always have to be increasing revenues. Both levers should be operated and to focus on one is short sighted.
- Through all the news that we have seen this week, all of the pressure by opposition in Parliament, and one very interesting interview with a Huawei executive, we can now unequivocally state that which before was only hinted at or speculated. It is now undeniable to say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is soft on China.
- The Conservatives are demanding that Canada join allies like the U.S. and formally declare the continued oppression of Uighur Muslims in China a genocide. Michael Chong, the party's foreign affairs critic, is trying to force the Liberal government's hand by introducing an opposition day motion that, if passed, would commit the House of Commons to officially declaring China's oppression of the Turkic-speaking Uighurs a genocide.
- The motion also calls on the government to formally brand the crimes carried out by the communist regime as genocidal acts. Chong said: "The evidence is clear. A genocide is taking place and Canada should not evade its responsibility. We must show leadership. We must take a stand."
- Chong added that Canada has a proud history of standing up for human rights globally, as it did in condemning apartheid in South Africa before other Western allies.
- Bloc Québécois, Green and NDP MPs also spoke in favour of the motion today. NDP MP Jack Harris, the party's foreign affairs critic, said: "We must call it for what it is. The whole community of nations must take it seriously and we hope the prime minister and his government support this motion and take this step. The actions meet the definition of genocide. There's undeniable evidence."
- A Bloc MP, Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, amended the motion to formally call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games out of Beijing, echoing an earlier plea from Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.
- O'Toole said history will judge those who let Chinese horrors go unchecked, and repeated a famous phrase used in the wake of the genocide of Jewish people and other groups during the Second World War.
- O'Toole said: "Around the world, we have solemnly uttered the phrase 'never again,' but it falls flat without action. 'Never again' demands action before more atrocities are committed. We cannot remain silent. Silence only helps those who commit crimes against humanity, never the victims."
- Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have refused to use the word "genocide" to describe China's actions against the Uighurs. Those actions, according to multiple reports, include imprisoning Uighurs in concentration and "deradicalization" camps, forced labour, sexual violence, population control methods and heavy-handed surveillance of everyday life.
- Trudeau has said the word genocide is an "extremely loaded" term and he is not at this point prepared to use it. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday that the government is "gravely concerned" about the "human rights situation." He said the abuses are "alarming" and the government takes them "very seriously."
- US President Joe Biden's administration has continued the previous Trump administration's tough stance on China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has continued the former administration's policy of describing China's treatment of the Uighurs as genocide. "My judgment remains that genocide was committed ... against the Uighurs and that hasn't changed," Blinken said late last month.
- When pressed on the U.S. declarations, Garneau said other Five Eyes partners haven't gone that far. "These are complex questions that I assure you our government is seized with," he said. "We're examining all the evidence." Garneau said Canada has a complicated relationship with China, the world's second largest economy. He said China could be a partner on other pressing global issues like the fight against climate change.
- Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, the party's human rights critic, said Trudeau has described the violence perpetuated against Indigenous women and girls in Canada as genocide but refuses to act when it comes to China: "Ironic, isn't it, that the prime minister is prepared to accuse his own country of genocide...but unwilling to accuse China of genocide when it's clearly taking place."
- In the meantime, the federal government is partnering with Huawei to sponsor leading-edge computer and electrical engineering research at Canadian universities, a move critics say threatens this country’s national security and economic interests.
- The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), a federal agency, is collaborating with the Canadian arm of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to fund the studies. Top universities in the United States and Britain have shunned further research money from Huawei over intellectual-property and national-security concerns.
- The federally funded council is putting up $4.8-million for research partnerships that include Huawei. The technology giant would not divulge its contribution but would only say it is “greater than $4.8-million.”
- The NSERC research funding was recently announced by Ottawa and comes as the Prime Minister has asked his cabinet ministers to safeguard intellectual property in Canada. Justin Trudeau issued a mandate letter to François-Philippe Champagne when the former foreign affairs minister took over the Innovation department in a cabinet shuffle last month.
- Some of the research co-funded with Huawei include advanced projects such as chip-to-chip communications over heterogeneous fabrics, intelligence computing memory systems, brain-inspired photonic computing and privacy-preserver graphic analytics.
- Jim Hinton, a leading Canadian intellectual property lawyer, said “it doesn’t make any sense at all to be supporting the IT development of a company that our allies don’t consider somebody safe to work with.”
- Hinton said the research projects tap into Canadian brainpower and give Huawei’s parent company in China an inside track on getting access to next-generation technology that will serve China’s national interests. Hinton adds that Canada has welcomed Huawei through the front door, allowing it to tie up Canadian researchers to develop valuable patented technology while “paying a relatively insignificant amount [money] to get access to that information.”
- Huawei Canada’s vice-president of corporate affairs, Alykhan Velshi, declined to say how much money Huawei is contributing to the NSERC-funded research projects. However, he said the company spends about $25-million annually on university research.
- In an interview with Global's The West Block, Huawei Canada’s vice-president of government relations Morgan Elliott repeatedly would not condemn the arbitrary detention by China of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, despite specifically and repeatedly insisting the company’s CFO Meng Wanzhou has “done nothing wrong.”: "The company has never done anything wrong. We’ve been transparent in all our interactions. Meng Wanzhou has done nothing wrong."
- Elliott made unclear and at times contradictory statements about the company’s activities, and dodged several requests for him to state clearly whether the company condemns the detention of the two Michaels.
- He also did not offer any clarification when told his responses suggest the company views as morally equivalent the arbitrary detentions of the two Canadians, who have been held in Chinese prisons for more than two years, and the arrest of Meng under a longstanding extradition treaty with the U.S.
- She and her company face dozens of criminal charges in the U.S., but she remains out on bail and living in a Vancouver mansion while her attempt to avoid extradition works through the courts.
- Let's look at the facts: Canada remains the only Five Eyes nation to not ban Huawei. The Canadian government has refused to condemn the Uighur atrocities and call the systematic oppression a genocide. Canada only turned to Moderna and Pfizer after its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino finally collapsed after months of delays.
- And now we hear that Trudeau is still allowing grant money to universities from Huawei, that he won't call the Uighur genocide what it is, and that Huawei won't condemn the arbitrary and unjust detention of the Two Michaels.
- In 2015 Trudeau famously proclaimed that Canada was back on the world stage. Instead we are still a doormat for China.
Word of the Week
Bedazzle - to impress forcefully, especially so as to make oblivious to faults or shortcomings
Quote of the Week
"Ironic, isn't it, that the prime minister is prepared to accuse his own country of genocide...but unwilling to accuse China of genocide when it's clearly taking place." - Garnett Genuis, Conservative Critic for Human Rights
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Bedazzling Genocide
Teaser: Canadian media companies get outwitted by tech companies, shortsighted mayors welcome Trudeau’s gun ban, and Albertan economists want a sales tax. Also, Trudeau is willingly complicit in China’s technological takeover of Canada.
Recorded Date: February 19, 2021
Release Date: February 21, 2021
Edit Notes: Cough / break up gun ban
Podcast Summary Notes